Loan defaults sting Tennessee nurses

Dozens of Tennessee nurses have had their licenses suspended for ignoring their student loans under new enforcement of a decade-old statute, state officials said.

In October, 42 nurses' licenses were suspended for failure to repay their federal student loans, including three in Chattanooga, according to the Tennessee Department of Health's monthly disciplinary action report.

But state officials say the suspensions don't represent a problem in the nursing field.

The suspensions were the culmination of 18 months' worth of efforts to notify and to work on repayment plans with hundreds of professionals licensed under the Tennessee Department of Health and Department of Commerce and Insurance, said Peter Abernathy, staff attorney for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp., which provides financial assistance for post-secondary education for Tennessee residents. Some of them had been in default on their loans for years, he said.